Spring special: sakura in Japan

Photography and retouch: Valya

Venue: Tokyo, Kyoto, Nara

Camera: Nikon Coolpix P7000 & iPhone 6

Music: Inuyasha’s lullaby (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_eqVlxjbUpY)

Spring is the famous cherry blossom (sakura) season in Japan and every year millions of tourists travel to the land of the rising sun to witness it. This year my sister was fortunate to be there for a short vacation and her friend’s wedding, and she visited the old and the new Japanese capitals – Nara, Kyoto and Tokyo. So I asked her to share a few of her photos here as her previous set of photos from Manhattan (https://kirilson.com/2016/12/25/christmas-special-over-manhattan/) were greatly appreciated. I hope you enjoy the cherry blossoms and the random collection of Japanese things I decided to select and comment on (you should blame me for any inaccuracies).

We start chronologically with Tokyo and some cherry blossoms in front of one of the numerous Shinto or Buddhist temples.
But the sakura blossoms can also be found in much more unexpected places, like the entrance of this restaurant in Shibuya, one of the popular districts in Tokyo for going out. Based on my visit Japan I can say that no collection of photos can do justice to Japan without some truly weird ones like this.
This is a peach blossom tree in front of the Roppongi Hills skyscrapers in the Roppongi area in Tokyo, one of the most international neighborhoods.
From skyscrapers to temples and from Tokyo to Kyoto and its famous Golden Pavilion (seemingly the only place in Japan lacking cherry trees in its garden).
Kinkaku-ji or the Temple of the Golden Pavilion is a Zen Buddhist temple built in 1397 when the preexisting villa was purchased by Shogun Yoshimitsu and transformed into the present temple complex with the surrounding gardens.
Kyoto was the capital of Japan in the middle centuries and consequently the forests and mountains around the city are packed with old Zen Buddhist and Shinto shrines and temples and beautiful gardens with cherry blossoms with small lakes and rivers running around.
Part of the Mao shan shrine, another temple in the forest near Kyoto. It was built in worship of a Lord defender that came from Venus millions of years ago to protect all living things on Earth. I can’t really say that all this makes much sense to me.
The gardens of the Imperial palace in Kyoto.
Some cherry blossoms next to Kamo river in Kyoto.
Moving to central Kyoto and its old geisha (also called geiko) neighborhood Gion next to the river. Gion and Ponto-cho are beautiful districts with well-preserved architecture from the old times and many traditional bars, restaurants and entertainment places (hence the collection of sake bottles under the windows).
Gion in the evening with a tourist passing by the omnipresent sakura blossoms.
Next stop was Nara, the even more ancient Japanese capital that preceded Kyoto. The cherry blossoms are however brand new.
Probably everyone knows the passion of Japanese people for photography. This, together with their obvious passion for cherry blossoms, is the only explanation I have for this massive crowd gathered under a cherry tree on the streets of Nara.
Todai-ji, one of the biggest Buddhist complexes in Nara built in the 7th century AD. It hosts the biggest bronze statue of Buddha in Japan making it very popular for tourists and their selfie-sticks.
Another point of view to the Todai-ji temple just to reassure people that cherry blossoms truly are everywhere.
Some magnolia blossoms in Nara accompanying all the cherries around them
The Wakamiya shrine in the forest near Nara with plenty of deer walking peacefully around the tourists.
A last photo from Nara and Japan with the pagoda of the Kafuko-ji temple. With or without sakura blossoms, the land of the rising sun can be pretty impressive.

Christmas special: over Manhattan

Photography and retouch: Valya

Venue: the sky over New York and Washington

Camera: iPhone 6

Music: Carol of the bells (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YVGKfDoANRA)

I would like to wish a very merry Christmas to everyone with a special post from my sister’s collection of photos in the past year. She lives in New York city and often travels for work to Washington DC, so she took quite some photos from the sky above the two cities. Now that she’s back home for the holidays we could finally meet and gather a small set of her best photos for this guest post. I hope you enjoy them, and once again, happy holidays to everyone and best wishes from Bulgaria!

From the sky over the Bronx, NY, with a clear view down the Bronx (you can see the Yankee stadium right in the center of the photo) and then the island of Manhattan to the south with Central park and the shiny Freedom tower on the other side. On the right side is the state of New Jersey on the other side of Hudson river.
A shot from a bit further east where you can again see the skyline of Manhattan with the tall 432 Park Avenue residential skyscraper on the edge of Central park.
Yet another take-off from La Guardia airport – here we’re closer to Manhattan with a clear view to Harlem the big lake in Central Park.
This is above New Jersey with a nice view towards Manhattan Midtown with the Empire State building and Downtown with the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges.
Here we’re right over Uptown West facing the other way (this time landing at La Guardia), overlooking Central Park and Midtown East and the neighborhoods of Queens and Brooklyn further to east and south-east.
Another full panorama of Manhattan with all pieces of the island clearly visible: Harlem in front, Uptown and Central Park, then Midtown and Downtown is way back in the end with the shining Freedom tower.
A view of New York city as a whole, with all five neighborhoods clearly visible: the Bronx in front, Queens and Brooklyn to the left, and Manhattan and Staten island further south in the back of the photo.
And one last full panorama of the “Big Apple”.
And here we find ourselves in the middle of the Nevada desert on the way to San Francisco.  The round alien-looking object is actually a solar power station.
And this is the approach to the Reagan National airport in the autumn season, somewhere between the states of Maryland and Virginia. The yellow color comes from all the trees in the area.
And again above Maryland or Virginia in the fall.
Shortly after take-off from Washington one can see clearly the National Mall starting with the great obelisk of the Washington monument and the Jefferson memorial on the other side of the lake. Further down the Mall is the US Capitol, while the White House is just below the wing of the plane on the edge of the green space.
A last shot of the US sky with (most likely) the Potomac river downstairs.